Outdoor Swimmer May 2023 - Spring(s)

May 2023 ‘Spring(s)’

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Creating and planning content for the magazine is one of my favourite parts of the job but is often the hardest too. The best thing about outdoor swimming is that there is always something to write about and I love showcasing swimmers and their lives. This month’s issue theme changed a lot over the course of planning it. It started as a magazine about hope, which is why there is a nod to that in some of the content. But our main feature is about springs and regeneration. At this time of year we all have an opportunity to bloom again!

Two authors I love, Katherine May and Jini Reddy, have written about holy wells and magical water in their books – inspiring me to seek out similar places. I followed the map that features in Jini’s book to a holy well in Kent for this month’s magazine. It was a brilliant adventure. The history and nature of water is steeped in story and the is an abundance of evidence of how it benefits us, Rowan Clarke explores more in her feature ‘Spring Clean‘ below.

While the water is warming, it still has a cool bite and it might surprise some of you that many swimmers return to wetsuits at this time of year for longer swims and event training. We have a six-page wetsuit gear testing section in this month’s magazine. We have tested racing suits, entry level suits and for the first time, suits for those of us with bigger bodies!

Enjoy the issue, see you in the water.

Ella Foote, Editor


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  • What to carry in a tow float bag
    Tow floats or tow bags and are now widely used by outdoor swimmers, but what do people carry in them?
  • Wetsuits for racing
    New technical materials, increased range of motion and dynamic flexibility: Simon Griffiths reviews the fastest wetsuits on the market. 
  • Water wildlife: Sea gooseberry
    Susanne Masters introduces us to the sea gooseberry (Pleurobrachia pileus), an iridescent comb jelly that refracts light like a rainbow.
  • Watch the rise
    Warming weather and longer days present an ideal opportunity to sit beside a river and watch the rise – a swirl, splash, gulp or leap as fish move to catch prey on the surface of the water – says Susanne Masters. 
  • Unexpected conflicts over water water use
    Simon Griffiths reflects on how water projects can have unintended consequences.
  • Training in open water
    With the water getting warmer, it’s time to take your training back to the open water, says Jonathan Cowie
  • The wild swimmer of Kintail
    Outdoor writer Kellan MacInnes takes on the challenge of wild swimming 28 high altitude hill lochs in a remote and mountainous area of the Scottish Highlands.
  • Swimming spot: West Beach, Berneray
    Alice Goodridge, author of Swimming Wild in Scotland, is your guide to this beautiful Hebridean beach, famed for its white sand and turquoise waters.
  • Swimming spot: Rhossili and Blue Pool, Gower
    Walk through sand dunes to play in the waves at one of Wales’ best-loved beaches. Nia Lloyd Knott, author of Wild Swimming Walks South Wales, is your guide.
  • Swimming spot: Loch an Eilein, Cairngorms
    With its fairytale castle, mountain scenery and ancient Caledonian pine forest, Loch an Eilein is the quintessential Highland swimming location. Alice Goodridge, author of Swimming Wild in Scotland, is your guide.
  • Swimming spot: Eas Chia-aig Waterfall, Spean Bridge
    Eas Chia-aig is a mesmerising double waterfall with a deep plunge pool at the bottom. Alice Goodridge, author of Swimming Wild in Scotland, is your guide
  • Swim hikes in South Wales
    Nia Lloyd Knott shares a small selection of her favourite swim hikes in the Brecon Beacons and Gower from her new book Wild Swimming Walks South Wales.
  • Spring Clean: the healing waters of springs
    From geothermal spas to icy plunge pools, Rowan Clarke explores the clean, healing waters of springs. 
  • Small-scale fishing solutions
    Working to understand the livelihood and ecology of small-scale fishing, Rodrigo Oyanedel, researcher at the SECOS Institute, Universidad Catolica de Chile accompanied fishers on their boats in the Pacific. 
  • Sarah Thomas: marathon swimmer
    Marathon swimmer Sarah Thomas reflects on the theme of ‘hope’ for our May edition of the magazine. 
  • Review: Plus size wetsuits
    For years it has been almost impossible to find wetsuits for bigger, curvier bodies. So it is exciting to see some brands developing their range to meet more swimmers’ needs. Open water and mountain guide Suzanna Cruickshank reviews the latest plus size wetsuits for outdoor swimmers.
  • Practise pool turns to improve your outdoor swimming
    Simon Griffiths explains how practising turns in the pool can help add strength and conditioning training to your open water swimming.
  • New swimming kit we love
    Here at Outdoor Swimmer, we love to try out new swimming kit. It could be anything from something to wear or a problem-solving creation we never knew we needed. Read on for a round-up of our favourite new pieces this month. 
  • Mami Wata and the Black Mermaids
    Of course mermaids can be Black. Elaine K Howley delves into the mythologies behind Hans Christian Andersen’s enduring fairy tale, The Little Mermaid, exploring a rich aquatic spiritual culture of West African mer-creatures including Mami Wata and many other watery gods, goddesses and powerful swimming creatures. 
  • Lido Guide: The energy crisis
    The energy crisis that has dogged the first part of 2023 hit the leisure industry hard, and swimming pools in particular bore the brunt. Author of The Lido Guide, Emma Pusill, explores ways we can navigate the challenges facing our pools and lidos. 
  • Inspiring us this month: Amr Wolf
    In our new series, we will be featuring swimmers and personalities who have inspired us by simply being themselves. This month, Amr Wolf caught our attention. By Ella Foote.
  • In search of holy water
    Jonathan Cowie (who has yet to swim in a well) delves into archives of wishing wells, springs and water boreholes in pursuit of local holy water he could take a dip in. But is it wild swimming?
  • Improve your day by setting intentions
    Liz Lowe believes setting intentions using a chosen word can have a positive impact on our daily habits and interactions.
  • How do I overcome my self-consciousness to enter a swimming event?
    Swimming coach Cassie Patten answers a reader question about to feel less self-conscious when outdoor swimming, and how to be more streamlined in the water.
  • Best open water swimming wetsuits
    Our experts review the best open water swimming wetsuits in 2024 including options for entry-level, breaststroke wetsuits, plus-size and racing wetsuits
  • Adaptive swimmer: Sophie Etheridge
    Hope is such a small word, but it has huge potential and infinite possibilities, says adaptive swimmer Sophie Etheridge as she prepares to swim the English Channel.  

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